In "Seeking a New Judge As a Matter of Right," I noted that a motion for substitution must be made before the judge has made a substantive ruling. A substantive ruling is one that affects the merits of a case. This definition is a little fuzzy, but is clarified a bit by case law:
- A substantive ruling relates directly to the merits of a case. Paschen Construction v. Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, 225 Ill. App. 3d 930, 590 N.E.2d 539, 168 Ill. Dec. 902 (2d Dist. 1992); Bonnie Owens Realty, Inc. v. Cincinnati Insurance Co., 283 Ill. App. 3d 812, 670 N.E.2d 1182, 219 Ill. Dec. 294 (5th Dist. 1996);
- A ruling on a motion to dismiss is a substantive ruling. Harvey v. Brewer, 166 Ill. App. 3d 253, 519 N.E.2d 939, 116 Ill. Dec. 724 (1st Dist. 1987);
- A ruling on a defendant's motion to strike is a substantive ruling. Swanson v. Randall, 30 Ill. 2d 194, 195 N.E.2d 656 (1964), as has a ruling on a motion for sanctions, Dolido v. Zenith Radio Corp., 194 Ill. App. 3d 268, 550 N.E.2d 1225, 141 Ill. Dec. 179 (1st Dist. 1990).
According to llinois Pretrial Practice, by Judge Jennifer Duncan-Brice, James P. Flannery, Jr., Timothy W. Kelly, & Kevin G. Owens, "examples of rulings generally held not to be on substantial issues include rulings on unopposed motions to amend, motions for extensions of time, discovery motions, and motions to sever claims." In Stoller v. Paul Revere Life Insurance Co., 163 Ill. App. 3d 438, 517 N.E.2d 5, 115 Ill. Dec. 40 (1st Dist. 1987), the First District held that a discovery order requiring parties to produce documents does not require sufficient judicial "deliberation" to make the order substantive.
Source note: Some information in this post is from Illinois Civil Practice, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (2000).